In an earlier post, I made comment on focus being important. Wanting to offer further explication, but lacking the words that made any sense outside my head, I've been ruminating.
Attending an evening of stellar music with Derek Webb and Jennifer Knapp yesterday, a comment made by Derek perfectly encapsulated the essence of my disturbance: "If we [the church] is known more by what we hate than what we love, something's wrong, folks."
Sit in coffee shops. Read comments to articles on CNN. Listen. People are sick of Christianity. I don't blame them, really. I react to a religion that lulls people into a warm bubble-bath sort of comfort, conditioning them to disengage themselves from the hurting and "messy" people in order to "keep themselves unspotted from the world". (Might that verse be warning against those very behaviors?) If the only time we engage people outside our circles is when we are militantly defending our beliefs, we have just discredited ourselves with a glaring duplicity. Will waging verbal and written war on evolution and alternative lifestyles gain us any credit with God or other people? Evidence would dictate a negative, at least where people are concerned. Jesus' careful attention to how we treat others might offer some insight where God is concerned.
If faith equals a lack of doubt, then Christianity only amounts to a conditioning of the mind and emotions to seeing the world, life, and the search and relationship with God through rose-colored glasses.
Onlookers want something more real. Something that engages life in all its complexity. Something that offers a hope that is not mere denial of reality. Something that respects people instead of claiming to have all the answers.
Am I right in saying that we Christians are human enough to have a preoccupation with the means rather than the end? When the teachings receive more focus than the Teacher, we miss His intent with astonishing completeness.
So this is my confession. I have much from which to repent. Bigotry and pride are no more excusable sins than hate and harlotry. I want my Christianity to amount to loving others the way I am loved... to telling how I am continually redeemed by the Love that I don't deserve.
Oh, and I was utterly thrilled to hear Jennifer Knapp live! That woman can play a guitar, yo! Her raw vocals, combined with her honest lyrics, make her one of my favorite female artists. Three years and three records into a promising music career, she disappeared from the music scene entirely. She took an indefinite hiatus from the Grammy nominated, Dove-winning hype and moved to Australia. Seven years later, she's back. I discovered her music rather by chance at age 17. "A Little More", "Breathe On Me", "Martyrs & Thieves", "Romans", "Say Won't You Say", "Undo Me", "Whole Again"... these songs in particular have given words to and offered solidity to the most fragile, formative times of my life. Her courage in returning to making music offers me courage as well...
Derek Webb's insightful sarcasm makes for some pretty great songs. He played a few of my favorites, like "Heaven", "Ballad in Plain Red", "I Repent", "A King & a Kingdom", and "Wedding Dress". Here's some advice: if you're looking for the relaxing sort of beauty in a musical piece, listen to classical. I think I feel a classical streak pending. Too much hard thinking and wrestling for long months. It's been real. It's been good. But I miss the magic. Sometimes life was made to be figured out; other times it was just meant to feel, to live. That said, I think I shall seek out the company of my favorite tree... down by the riverside. ;)